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"My life is my own."

by Lupin Tue Apr 25th, 2006 at 06:04:14 AM EST

This is a quote from the Prisoner, when No. 6 concludes his angry tirade: "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered... My life is my own!"

Jerome's latest bit of brouhaha on Kos made me reflect about the individual and society. Obviously, one single person, by him/herself, can't change the world... but one can certainly take steps to change one's life, and such steps, cumulatively, eventually have an impact on the whole of society.

This is the province of economics, sociology... and psychohistory. :-)

Besides, even if one believes one can't change society (and I'll admit I'm a bit too old to entertain such hopes myself), at least one can try to take care of one's "family unit". :-)

In my own case, I purposefully left a high-paying job in the mid-80s to become independent; both my wife and I built careers that were far less rewarding financially, but where we were indebted to no one.

Freedom over security, or servitude.

We bought a house at  exactly the same time we made the jump from regular employment to self-employment, because we thought that was another way of gaining control over our lives.

We never refinanced... correction, we never took out any equity, never traded up, only refinanced from 30-yr fixed to 30-yr fixed to take advantage of dropping rates. Eventually, over 15+ years, we  built up a lot of equity in a rising market.

We only bought small cars (our current one is a 2003 Toyota Echo) and paid cash for them. We generally paid our credit cards in full every month.  We saved money by living modestly.

One of the reasons we decided to move to France (obligatory plug for my wife's book here) was that we felt things were, are, spinning out of control in the US; plus, once you hit 50, you might as well look for an ice floe to die, health insurance-wise.  

When the time came, we purposefully chose a Southern village with all the amenities; we're as close to the food supply as can be, almost self-sufficient, and drive maybe 5000 miles in the year if that. (And a chunk of that are special trips that could be eliminated.) We have no debt, own our home free and clear (with a "declaration d'insaisissabilite" on it, meaning it can never be seized) and can live comfortably on about 1000/1200 euros a month.

We could just as well moved to a small village in Canada or New Zealand or the UK (alternatives we explored), but ultimately, France made more sense for us, and was quite appealing.

Maybe we've made all the wrong decisions over the last 15 years or so: we should have lived high in the 90s, piled up debt, squandered money, and just stay in our high six figures home in Encino, with the certainty that the Good Life will go on.

I certainly have a lot of very dear friends who live mortgaged to the hilt in huge mansions in the Hollywood hills, trapped by what Rod Serling called the "velvet cage."

A high income is like a drug addiction; you come to rely on it so much that one day, you're ready to do anything, just about anything, if someone threatens to cut off your supply.

We chose to restructure our life differently in 1985; maybe we did a foolish thing -- though even if that was the case, at least, we're happy fools. :-)

So, as No. 6 says, "your life is your own." If you think the concerns about our society that we discuss here, on Kos, etc. are valid ones, even worrying ones,  then it is incumbent upon you to change your life accordingly.

Just do it.


i'm seeing more 'bush refugees' coming to europe all the time.

you could call it a 'soul drain'.

well done lapin

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Apr 25th, 2006 at 08:07:27 AM EST
Mind you I'm not saying people should leave if it's not right for them.

I'm saying that they should act to change their lives, if they think the alternative concerns them.

In a way, this is the counterpoint to Jerome's approach: individual (not state) changes that will eventually mushroom and change society.

From the bottom up, not the other way around.

by Lupin on Tue Apr 25th, 2006 at 08:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry about yer handle, it's a flower, not a rabbit!

i totally agree about the bottom-up change.

i find jerome's faith in the 'elite's' ability to run things both tenuous and touchingly naive.

he's an awesome blogger all the same.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Apr 25th, 2006 at 09:58:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that the only member of the elite I really know is me... So the faith is indeed tenuous and naive!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 25th, 2006 at 01:19:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
haha you cracked me up..

i was so worried i had made a faux-pas after i posted that comment that i literally dropped most of my lunch while setting it down on the table!

shoulda know you'd take it right...


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Apr 25th, 2006 at 05:01:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm saying that they should act to change their lives, if they think the alternative concerns them.
I don't think I chose life I am living (not now when I became an emigrant solely by my choice in 1993 or ever). That life chose me and took me over. I had to learn how to live it and survive (not just financially but what's more important emotionally). I can only say that I am jealous if there are people who really chose or even strongly believe they chose their life. I had no idea where I am going at the time. Me and my husband just took 4 big suitcases and two teenagers and left for NZ where we did not know single soul. I could hardly find NZ on the map at the time. When desperate relatives told us "but it's too far" we answered
"Good! We need to go as far as one can get from here!"
How I am now in Brisbane Australia is above me. I have never heard of this city back in Serbia or have seen one single photo prior to my husband getting a job here. But I liked the place somehow and determined my self to come and live here just because of one conversation that mentioned Brisbane in a good light.
Where am I going from here? I wouldn't know to tell you. We had an offer to go to California but we refused (for now) for many reasons (mostly cause children still need us (all though they are adults now) and because Bush made me lose my interest...But still we may end up there in few years. We are thinking of buying apartment back in Belgrade and who knows we may be back later in life. We were also seriously reconsidering spending few years in Dubai (UE) prior to this madness with terrorism...now it's out of the question...How can I say I am the one choosing my life? My children and grandchild (one for now) are also great part of the story and their decisions will have great impact on our decisions...
To really be free to choose life one must not have anything or anybody.
Generally if you are "spender" you'll spend (even no matter your financial circumstances) if you are "stingy" you will not. I always had a feeling that I would "know" how to spend if I only had enough money .I never had enough but at some point I had enough to spend more then I usually do end...no I did not spend it recklessly...because that's me.
But I learned not to be unhappy because of it...I learned to enjoy small things ( and a lot of them)...I learned not to compare with others who have more...maybe this came with my age...maybe not. I already mentioned a very good friend who as a dentist is making serious money here. He tried at some point to initiate a little bit of "greed" and to push us to do something (to involve our selves in some small business mostly) and earn more money. " We don't have that problem , we are mostly OK with where we are" was our answer and he just couldn't believe his ears...Of course it's not that we wouldn't like more money but we just feel that it would come with too much price for us at this point and age...
This is getting too long...basically I just don't believe that one can suddenly change his life because of choice...any decision  builds up and depend of so many external thingies. Nor I believe society is going to suddenly change a course without big shocks (wars, revolutions etc.) and even they need build ups to the point where some things are possible. It takes time and...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Apr 25th, 2006 at 10:54:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great perspective.  I have been thinking so much about this.  

A friend of mine once pointed out the difference between the causes of the extreme right and the left.  You don't actually have to do anything to be against gays or abortion or immigration.  You can just talk.  Whereas to fix the problems of inequality, injustice, etc, you actually have to get off your ass and do something.  And most people I know have, in one way or another.

But now, as Jerome so clearly -however unintentionally- illustrated, we have to go beyond just actions and make sacrifices of our own in order to fix things.  Actual sacrifices.  Not little adjustments, but sacrifices we actually feel, and alter our lives in such a dramatic way that leaves the future full of unknowns, full of difficulties we feel we don't deserve.  I don't think we should underestimate how difficult that is.

But I'm getting really freaked out about this whole lack of power to do anything about our situations ethos on Kos in response to Jerome's not even all that radical posts.  Seriously, whatever the system is doing, it is working. Creepy stuff.  Just shows you how much people are willing to live with before they are compelled to leave their comfort zone.  The devil you know...  And this Administration, and this whole system, is banking on it.


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Apr 25th, 2006 at 11:32:12 AM EST
I don't want to be 'addicted' to my relatively high salary...but at the moment it feels that way.  I have thought about moving on from my current job but I enjoy my work as well as being paid a good salary...however I'm fairly certain that if I moved I'd have to take a cut somewhere and that would probably impinge on my current lifestyle.  I might have the same salary elsewhere but a lower (if not non-existant) bonus.  The 'perks' of working where I currently work are not something you get in many other places.  There is a lot of 'comfort' in my job and that can make you feel safe...whereas the thoughts of moving start the 'what ifs' and feelings of insecurity which make you recoil from the moving thoughts.   So I guess addiction is a very good description of my dependence on my job.

My aim is to retire at age 45...not from life but TO life.  I don't want to sit in a suit in an office for the rest of my life.  I want to live my life...

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde

by Sam on Tue Apr 25th, 2006 at 04:32:51 PM EST
There's nothing wrong in getting a high salary (au contraire) if you're addicted to it, ie: if overnight your income was slashed in half, could you still go on as before.

A high salary should make you MORE independent, not LESS.

by Lupin on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 01:49:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I want to live my life...

I don't want to disappoint you but my experience goes like this :Enjoy you life NOW! Work and make money but do not forget to enjoy in the main time too. Those who are waiting to have enough money to enjoy their life mostly work hard until they die and...It's not going to be the same to enjoy it when you are 25, 45 and 65...if you are still alive. You will never have another chance to enjoy what ever you possibly can enjoy in this particular age...
I am not even going in to the discussion about "enjoyment" and what it is and what it has to do with money...
My advice is: do not wait...LIVE NOW...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 08:35:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't concern yourself too much on that front ...

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 08:48:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nop...I had a feeling from the beginning that you wouldn't need advices on that front, ha-ha

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 08:58:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We try, we try...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 09:13:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahhh...my Grizzly...strange how for a moment I'd 'forgotten' her...now that makes me feel sad...

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde
by Sam on Fri Apr 28th, 2006 at 05:33:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IMO what you have done is fantastic.  To some extent you are a modern day Thoreau, though you chose southern France rather than Walden Pond,,,,if he could read your diary, he might be moving next door to you, building his own little domicile.

This is exactly right,,,we all have freedoms and choices in our lives.  Obviously if you're Teddy Kennedy or one of the Kennedy clan, or Prince Harry, you have different choices than the more normal bloke.  But many people that think they can't take control of their lives because they may not be millionaires--I mean I wanted to be a professional baseball player,,,but that just wan't in the cards.  but there was still, and still is, a world of choices out there.

by wchurchill on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 03:22:20 AM EST
To add a footnote, all things considered, we would have been happy to stay in our lovely little house in Encino, which was arranged just perfectly, with our friends, our in-laws, our paid-off car and even with a small fixed rate mortgage, had the situation in the US, morally, politically and economically, not so suddently turned grim.

The health care/insurance issue was becoming a problem, but we might have put up with that, hadn't it been for everything else.

As we decided to rethink our lifestyle in 1985, we were forced to rethink it again.

I think inertia is often our biggest foe.

by Lupin on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 03:40:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm really applauding your willingness to take your life in your own hands.  Many people do that,,,some change countries (and btw I think your choice of location was great), others change jobs or careers, others move within the same country.  I know many, many Europeans who have come to the US because they've taken the view of wanting to start their own business, and think the US is the place to do it.  So I wasn't trying to criticize or applaud your personal choice, but more your insight and decisiveness to make the choice and do it.
by wchurchill on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 04:12:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A very interesting diary I failed to comment on earlier.

About this bit: Obviously, one single person, by him/herself, can't change the world, I would say that I am a strong believer in the "butterfly effect". Smiling and saying calm things to an old lady ranting about troublesome youths may not do much to change the world, but maybe it'll help change her day, just a little. And maybe it'll make her talk to the troublesome youths in a different way, just that day. And maybe that will change that one day for the youths. And from there on, anything can change.

But these are cosmetic, unnoticeable changes, and not necessarily for the better, so getting one's act together and choosing one's life is certainly a much more efficient way of changing our world, the world.

by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 09:49:50 AM EST
About this bit: Obviously, one single person, by him/herself, can't change the world, I would say that I am a strong believer in the "butterfly effect".

That was precisely my point. A cumulative process.

by Lupin on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 09:58:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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